ACP Chair of the Committee of Ambassadors Shirley Skerritt-AndrewBrussels, 15 February 2012/ ACP: The newly appointed Chair of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors has encouraged solidarity amongst African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, in the face of a “volatile” geopolitical environment.

Ambassador Shirley Skerritt-Andrew, who represents the Eastern Caribbean States of the Commonwealth including Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, officially began her six month term as Chair of the Committee of Ambassadors on 1st February.

She made an inaugural speech to her fellow ACP delegates in Brussels last week.

“The historic ties and shared values that link us to our European partner and are the foundation of our partnership are increasingly being tested, and new strategies deployed by the EU seem to confirm this trend. The global scene does seem ominous,” stated Ambassador Skerritt-Andrew.

She noted a decline in foreign aid flows, concern over the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals; the Doha impasse; delays in international climate change negotiations; problematic aid effectiveness as well as the ongoing effects of the global economic crisis, adding, “It is at this point that I believe that it is useful to remember that old African proverb that states ‘when the music changes, so must the dance’.”

Skerritt-Andrew, a specialist on European affairs and a former senior advisor to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, said the introduction of the Economic Partnership Agreements with Europe had divided the ACP Group along regional lines, and the Commission’s proposal to withdraw 18 ACP countries from the list of beneficiaries of trade preferences under Regulation 1528/2007 as of 1 January 2014, could also be seen as a threat to the stability of the group.

“My vision of the ACP Group is that of a strong and dynamic institution, with no apprehension about its future. For this to be achieved, we need to work very hard to guarantee the continuity of the Group beyond 2020 [when its current Partnership Agreement with Europe concludes]. Thus we need to throw all our weight behind the efforts of the Working Group on future perspectives of the ACP as it reflects on the modus operandi of a renewed ACP that has been repositioned to take advantage of the opportunities that come with change.”

An Ambassadorial Working Group was established last year to map out and consolidate a long term direction forward for the Group.

Ambassador Skerritts-Andrew stressed the need for ACP countries to “speak boldly with one voice” on key development issues.

Read the Ambassador's full address

– ACP Press